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Melaleuca Freedom Celebration’s 30-Year Anniversary Salutes America’s Heroes with Largest Fireworks Show West of the Mississippi River

Published online: Jun 22, 2023 Best of IF, Discover Idaho Falls
Viewed 2160 time(s)

Over the last 30 years, the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration has helped millions of families pay tribute to our Founding Fathers, our veterans and our service members by painting the night sky with the largest fireworks show west of the Mississippi River. And for more than 200,000 viewers who will watch the 30th anniversary of the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration, 18,315 high-flying, ground-shaking fireworks will outshine all the other awe-inspiring pyrotechnic displays held over the last three decades.

For 31 explosive minutes, this special 30-year anniversary show will average 590 shells per minute! Spectators will want to be at Snake River Landing in Idaho Falls on Tuesday, July 4, at 10:03 p.m. to watch this free show.

As measured by the sheer number of fireworks, this year’s Melaleuca Freedom Celebration will be the largest Independence Day fireworks display west of the Mississippi River and one of the best fireworks shows across the entire country. Melaleuca’s unwavering commitment to this event for 30 years, demonstrated by increased labor and funding each year, has allowed it to take its place as one of America’s most extraordinary fireworks shows.

An inspiring soundtrack, perfectly synchronized with an array of American-made fireworks, will honor our nation’s patriots, our valiant veterans, our selfless service members, and their devoted families who have all sacrificed for us to enjoy America’s freedoms.

“The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration is more than just entertainment on the Fourth of July,” said Melaleuca Executive Chairman Frank VanderSloot. “The combination of fireworks, music and message provides magical moments of reflection and an opportunity to re-pledge allegiance to the flag that represents our nation. On a different level, it’s a heartfelt, unifying event for the community — but more importantly, it’s a tribute of gratitude to America’s heroes.”

Among the Nation’s Best Fireworks

The 30th Annual Melaleuca Freedom Celebration rivals the most respected fireworks shows in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and it launches two to four times more fireworks than nearly all of America’s largest cities.

Beyond the aerial firepower, Melaleuca ensures the artistic choreography, split-second synchronization with a powerful soundtrack, and a one-of-a-kind fireworks amphitheater all add up to producing a world-class competition-grade fireworks display. What’s more, this year’s show is designed to be a showcase of fireworks that are made in the USA, with many special effects having never been seen before.

This unusual combination is why the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) has repeatedly highlighted this show, dubbing it a “must-see” event, and why fireworks aficionados travel from all across the country to see it.

“Although the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration may be off the beaten path in Idaho Falls, Idaho, it’s worth the effort to behold this remarkable, competition-caliber fireworks show,” said Julie Heckman, APA executive director. “This is one of the nation’s largest fireworks displays, and it’s been listed on the APA’s list of ‘Must-See Independence Day Fireworks Displays.’”

Idahoans consistently rank it as the state’s “Best Local Event,” and this has become the largest event in the state for several years.

Fireworks: Made in the USA

For Melaleuca, American-made fireworks are here to stay. Just as in recent years, the 30th Annual Melaleuca Freedom Celebration features a wide variety of American-made fireworks.

This is rare because roughly 75% of fireworks in the United States come from China. Because American-made fireworks cost up to 100% more than Chinese counterparts, few shows include them in their inventory. Hoping to start an industry trend, Melaleuca has committed to showcasing fireworks that are manufactured right here in the US.

“Because American-made fireworks are quite expensive, it is very unusual for them to be so prominently featured in a large-scale fireworks display,” said Heather Gobet, a fourth-generation pyrotechnician whose family-owned company has fired more than 10,000 shows over 75 years. “Because Melaleuca supports American manufacturing, the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration is the only major fireworks show I know of that couples such a profoundly patriotic message with American-made fireworks. You can’t get more patriotic than that!”

When it comes to purchasing American-made products to celebrate our nation’s birthday, Melaleuca believes that the decision is clear. “Compared with the price that the veterans paid, the fireworks cost absolutely nothing,” said VanderSloot.

Exclusive, Custom-Built Fireworks

Importantly, many of these American-made shells were custom designed for this year’s Melaleuca Freedom Celebration, offering an exclusive display of fireworks that have never been seen anywhere else in the world!

Many of these shells required hours of hands-on construction, and their intensity, magnitude and volume come through in flying colors. Here are just two examples out of dozens of new products. The 30th Annual Melaleuca Freedom Celebration features distinctive shells with an intense core of vibrant rainbow-colored stars. Another innovation features multiple shells within a larger shell. After a large break, viewers will see an intense array of complementary effects.

But using American-made pyrotechnics isn’t just about being patriotic and supporting American manufacturing. These handcrafted fireworks are simply better because they display brighter colors and more dramatic vibrancy.

Spectators will also be riveted by several “firework scenes,” which are curtains of special effects that create a unifying view that fills the entire sky.

The finale this year will be more spectacular than ever, featuring American-made shells that are gold, red, white, and blue. It will be punctuated by the debut of a new multi-shot firework called the Red and Blue Sound Dragon.

All of this will be fired across five zones spanning hundreds of feet across the elevated launch pad—the total expanse being wider than two football fields. This enables the show’s designers to use the entire night sky the way an artist would use a canvas, launching across the horizon and breaking wider than a thousand big screens.

World-Class Technology and Synchronization

For three decades, Western Display Fireworks has fired the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration along with 10,000 other shows over its 75-year history. When designing this show, our pyrotechnicians examined every second using 3D models, running hundreds of simulations. They also collaborated with American firework manufacturers to develop and invent awe-inspiring products and dazzling special effects for this show.

To ensure fireworks are perfectly synched with the soundtrack, the 30th Annual Melaleuca Freedom Celebration will use the Galaxis Wireless Firing System, which launches fireworks so they explode within one one-hundredth of a second to the beats of music. This technology is the gold standard in the pyrotechnic industry and is used at the Olympics and elite fireworks competitions.

Our lead pyrotechnician is Thomas Bates, who is one of the most experienced US operators of the Galaxis system. International fireworks technology expert Renzo Cargnelutti will also return this year from Frankfurt, Germany, to assist with the setup.

Paying Tribute to America’s Heroes

The fireworks are synchronized shell for shell and note for note with an emotional soundtrack, consisting of popular and symphonic music, historic audio clips and narration. This is broadcast live on Classy 97 KLCE.

Without the soundtrack, the meaning of the show will be missed. Event organizers encourage all to listen to the soundtrack on Classy 97 KLCE so that they can experience the powerful tribute that our veterans and soldiers deserve.

At Snake River Landing, spectators will listen to the patriotic soundtrack over a network of over 100 large wireless speakers that Melaleuca provides exclusively for this event.

“In America, it’s easy to take our freedoms for granted,” said VanderSloot. “Sometimes we need to be reminded that freedom isn’t free. It came at a tremendous cost, not paid by us, but paid by the over one million men and women who have died in battle since 1776. The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration was created to honor those heroes and their families. Thirty-one minutes of tribute doesn’t seem like enough, but we hope it will create a feeling in our souls that will last all year.”

Ball Ventures Built a Spectacular Site for Fireworks 

Idaho Falls is fortunate to have the nation’s only amphitheater specifically designed for a fireworks show. VanderSloot credits Ball Ventures for heavily investing in this event, constructing an incredible venue and providing the incredible 110 acres of outdoor space at Snake River Landing. He also points out that they devote hundreds, if not thousands, of hours each year to prepare the ideal environment for the community.

“The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration is one of the area’s most cherished events,” said Ball Ventures CEO Cortney Liddiard. “We are extremely appreciative of Melaleuca for allowing us to be part of this time-honored tradition that brings the community together for the Fourth of July each year.”

“Snake River Landing is the perfect place to view it,” said VanderSloot. “The show is all around you. You’re feeling the ground shake beneath you.”

Event Parking and Traffic Flow

The event’s various partners have developed a master traffic plan, so when the fireworks conclude, traffic from each parking lot will flow in a predetermined direction for maximum efficiency. Every year, the police demonstrate they can empty the streets much more quickly than in previous years.

Before the event, visitors should review the event parking and traffic maps at FreedomCelebration.com/Parking to ensure they park in the ideal spot so they can leave the event with the flow of traffic. Traffic flows one way out of the different parking lots, so spectators are encouraged to choose their parking spot based on the direction they want to go after the show is over.

The master traffic plan has been developed by several agencies within the City of Idaho Falls, the Idaho Falls Police Department, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho State Police, Idaho Transportation Department, Horrocks Engineers, Ball Ventures, Melaleuca and others. 

Visit freedomcelebration.com to learn more about the event. And visit RiverFestIdaho.com to read about the 2023 Idaho Falls Community Hospital Riverfest, which features food options, live music and entertainment throughout the Fourth of July at Snake River Landing.

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